The photo was brownish green printed on a tin more than a century ago, a couple with their child. They are posing by the horse tie which is rusty today from years of nature’s battering. The couple is not smiling as the shutter closes capturing them and the mansion behind them. History, when presented, gives one pause to reflect. As I looked through the old photos, I would wonder. What were the moments before, during and after the camera shutter closed? Did the child grow? Did the couple live in the mansion, or were they merely visiting on that day locked in time? Old photography of the unknown freezes time. It’s one’s imagination that thaws out the before and after. The old wooden box which had served as a cassette for the photos I found in the crawl space that day – was indeed a time capsule.
Over a hundred years had passed. The pictures were a story of people frozen in time. Each would capture a moment forever, a place, emotion, and an unknown before and after. The photos in the box were like a ghost. As I looked through them, they were transported from the Tin to my mind where they came to life. It would be my imagination which would determine the before and after for each photo taken. Could this time capsule of photos be a family treasure, or was it buried in the crawl space to hide a family secret or pain?
After hours of looking through each photo, a story would present itself. Each photo appeared to have been taken on the same day. By the absence of leaves on the mighty oaks in the yard, I conclude it is fall or winter. The couple with the child in the earlier picture, also appeared in the photo standing by a coffin in the mansion’s parlor.
The small wooden pine box we all know the shape of was open. In another picture taken in the dining room, a feast of food filled the ornately carved table. In this dining room picture, seven men were sitting in chairs, two standing, and no woman was present. The photos, ten in total only three had woman locked in time. The one of the couple and child at the hitching post in front of the mansion, the one taken in the foyer by the coffin, and one which was taken in the rose garden. The ladies in that picture numbered six. In the garden that day frozen in time, the Roses were missing from their stems of thorns, another clue to the time of year. There were no smiling faces. Back then no one smiled in photos. The expressions of these ladies sitting with the empty rose bushes, and marble statues, was frightening. The rose garden they sat in seemed to be swallowed by sadness and grief.
The photo taken in the mansion’s library, you can see a painting of a child hanging over the fireplace. This girl with pigtails and a dress which is so dark means it’s more than likely is the brightest color. I imagine red velvet. Standing around the fireplace, the men are toasting, holding their glasses toward the painting. On the floor lies a bear rug with its head looking into the fire.
The photo which is the most revealing to explaining this autumn day a century ago was taken in the parlor. Hanging from the ceiling by the grand staircase, behind the small open coffin, Is a large painted sign, spelling out